The Child’s Advocate is a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina that provides attorneys for children in highly contested private custody cases. We are appointed by judges in family court in Wake and Durham counties to represent children in cases with the following: domestic violence, child abuse or mistreatment, substance abuse or mental instability of a parent, relocation of a parent, or a child with special needs.
By working with the parents and their attorneys, we settle most of our cases without the need for a trial. But when a trial is necessary, we present evidence and call witnesses so that the Court learns about the child’s experience, concerns and preferences.
Our role is different from that of a guardian ad litem (GAL). Instead of deciding what is best for our clients, we investigate and advocate for what our clients believe is best for them. To do this, we collaborate with mental health providers so we can better understand our clients’ perspectives and preferences. Throughout our representation of our clients, we maintain a confidential attorney-client relationship.
The Child’s Advocate recruits and trains pro bono attorneys from the private family law bar to ensure that we have the resources to represent every child appointed an attorney.
Our hope is to gradually expand our services to additional counties in North Carolina.